Doing the right thing. It’s a question that seems mixed in gray matter in today’s world. Words have never been used to subvert the truth for Picard, and Star Trek: Picard represents so much more than an extension of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It represents something I felt all those years ago, and the upwelling feeling of emotion, seeing my Captain on screen again, is exactly what my soul needed, without even knowing it was needed. Star Trek: Picard represents something completely new, an unrecognizable feeling from the beloved show that TNG still is. As Stewart references in his interview with Variety, it’s clear that this show is a response to today’s political climate. He shares his thoughts on what viewers can expect" “’I think what we’re trying to say is important,’ he says. ‘The world of Next Generation doesn’t exist anymore. It’s different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure.’”
Those many years ago, it was encouraging to see such principles in a person. Resolute. Determined. Compassionate. Perhaps Star Trek: Picard is a perfect reminder for us to witness, hopefully to gather, a little more compassion in a time when hope can feel quite fleeting. As a parent, the struggles to define and hopefully guide my children through the difficult times ahead – identifying their own internal workings to understand their feelings – is something I still don’t know I’m fully qualified for. Captain Picard stood as a balance for me. A reason to be excited through years of battling what I guess I would now describe as some form of self-loathing. At least, I was very unhappy to a degree. Hope was knowing a new episode would be coming on each week, and I would hope to see such amazing characters that I loved, particularly Picard. What better sense of hope can there be when a person, who was abducted by the Borg and forced to do unspeakable acts, turns his turmoil into an act to help an individual drone in the 1992 episode, "I, Borg." Picard was devastated by his actions as a member of the Borg (as Locutus), but he saw above his hatred to do the right thing. He offered this Borg refuge.
That type of vision, unclouded by hatred, lends itself clearly in the first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard. The now Admiral Picard (retired) has been nestled away on his family’s vineyard for the past two decades, since he resigned his commission. The loss of Commander Data during the last TNG film, Star Trek: Nemesis, hasn’t left Picard. The mistakes by Starfleet still haunt him, but in those dreams, he still finds comfort in seeing his old android friend again. Picard does more than remind us of the amazing legacy left behind; it completely opens our eyes to the travesty of this new world. Although the surroundings might seem bright, the tenor of a seedy Romulan conspiracy more than hangs in the air. It’s dangerous, deadly, and before anyone knows what’s happened – poof – they’re gone. The idea that fear and death can happen in an instant is profound and impactful to the story being told.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN STAR TREK: PICARD AND THE NEXT GENERATION
The team behind Star Trek: Picard achieved its goal of creating something different from its predecessor. What’s astounding is the fact that they’ve created something completely new. The opening is different; its music has a completely different tone, away from the upbeat score in TNG. Picard is clearly different, with being older, dealing with the loss of a friend, and understanding Starfleet isn’t the purveyor of goodwill it once was. It’s clear that Picard has friends who care deeply for him, but it seems that the world has either forgotten him or is simply happy to see him secluded to his farm.
One thing that ties in wonderfully to both shows is that the central character is always needed in some way. Picard seeks to help a woman attacked by an unknown force which they soon reveal, but the sense of trust and honor that is bestowed upon this character leaves a lasting impression that one can only feel true affection for. That’s the type of character I want my kids to watch. Obviously, my children are a little young to hear an F-bomb dropped (which I was surprised to hear in Episode 2), but I think that also speaks to the level of change that has taken place within the ranks of Starfleet. There was a level of decorum in The Next Generation, and when Picard goes to ask for help, they clearly didn’t get the memo.
MEMO: You do not speak to Jean-Luc Picard in that way!
So, Star Trek: Picard is not something I would let my five and seven-year-old watch. Besides the expletive, there are action sequences that involve death and intense fights. Now, for my geeky parent take: It has blown my mind. There was a staggering emotional pull as I watched Sir Patrick Stewart take steps as the wonderful Jean-Luc Picard. Yes, the character has gotten older, has a lovable dog named “Number One,” and he has regular dreams that reflect the past that leaves him wanting. But, his heart still resembles that of the fictional character I grew up with.
Many a days have I sat watching episodes. Since watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on air in the '80s, there has never been a year where I’ve gone without watching many episodes. That’s the impact of amazing storytelling and the actors who bring life to incredible characters. If there was any image of someone to help explain why #StoriesMatter, then perhaps it should be an image of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in uniform. After I’ve watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard, there’s a feeling stirring in me that perhaps, just maybe, that image will soon be the image of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (retired) in the clothing and surroundings that are still foreign to us.
When I reference Picard as my favorite character, it wasn’t just meant to reference Star Trek. He is my favorite character, ever. The impact of knowing his return, since the announcement in 2018 at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, has left me wondering how it would feel to have that feeling back in my life. Star Trek: The Next Generation and Captain Picard were my safety net. It was my time to forget about anything and everything that might’ve been on my mind. Loving a specific character, one that exudes hope, is nothing but a very good thing. Despite Star Trek: Picard having a different tone, you can’t escape the amazingness that comes with seeing Sir Patrick Stewart take the helm of Jean-Luc Picard once again.
That is the power of storytelling. That is why #StoriesMatter to so many. The power to feel safe, happy, and hopeful from a fictional character is something that links us to stories in such a meaningful way. In this new series, Starfleet is clearly not what we expect to see since our time with TNG. Though, knowing Picard is there gives me hope that change is possible. Shouldn’t change be possible and shouldn’t we always hope for the best in people? To have that sense of goodwill and compassion, it’s important, right? A Star Trek world has been constructed at a time when perhaps it’s needed most. During my younger years with TNG, there were many days where I struggled to understand who I was supposed to be and why I always felt so alone. Now, I think Jean-Luc Picard has arrived just in time to help anyone who feels that way. The story in this show might be different, but the character is just what we need.
Star Trek: Picard is an original series that can be watched as a member of CBS All Access. If you’re interested in watching this or any other series, you (like I did) can take advantage of a 7-day free trial which you can cancel prior to being charged for its monthly or yearly membership plans they offer.